As the ending credits of the last episode began to roll I thought, “They didn’t finish it. This can’t be the end.” And then, thankfully, I read at the top of the screen, “ Hospital Playlist will be back in a new season in the year 2021.” I can’t tell you how happy I was to see that because around episode eight I was dreading it being over.
The story is about five people who met while at med school. Though they were all in different classes they somehow ended up becoming friends and have now settled down as professors at Yulje Medical Center.
Lee Ik-Joon is an assistant professor of general surgery. He was at the top of his class when he entered med school and was still there when he graduated. He also had the highest marks on the medical board exam. It didn’t matter if it was a practical or an exam, he always had the highest grades. Although he is married, he has raised his son alone, with the help of his family, while his wife has been working in Europe and he hasn’t seen her in over a year. He absolutely adores his boy and takes his role as father seriously. But the man also has a fun and silly side. He claims if he was still a single guy and not a father his dream would be to go clubbing every night.
Kim Jun-Wan is an assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery and many say he’s the best surgeon in the hospital. In school his GPA was second highest in the entire Natural Science division. He enjoys teaching the students, residents, and fellows at the hospital and quickly turned down an offer to be chief of carsiothoracic surgery, only to accept the offer a little while later. Right now he is single although he has been in relationships in the past. He and Ik-Joon have known each other all their life and are especially close. On his off time you can catch him on the golf course.
Ahn Jeong-Won is an assistant professor of pediatric surgery. His nickname is Buddha, referring to the fact that he is kind, understanding, unselfish, and loving – a true humanitarian. He’s so sensitive that he loses sleep and suffers severe sorrow if something goes wrong with this patient. His father ran the hospital and it was assumed Jeong-Won would take over when he passed away, but he isn’t interested in doing that. He’s a man of principles who comes from a very devout catholic family where both his brothers chose to be priests and both sisters became nuns. Although he’s an excellent physician, and there are precious few pediatric surgeons in the country, he wants to leave it all to join the priesthood, like his brothers.
Chae Song-Hwa is an associate professor of neurosurgery and the emotional pillar of the group. Those that work with her claim she has no weaknesses and insist she’s even more wonderful than the rumors that circulate about her entail. She is good at her job and always finds time to help others with theirs. One of her most beloved hobbies is camping and she happily goes every chance she gets. She is tone deaf and has no sense of rhythm which might be why it took her five years to learn how to play the bass guitar. She is indirectly responsible for Lee Ik-Joon getting married since she’s the one that set him up with her friend.
Yang Seok-Hyeong is an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology. The man is a hermit, some people even going so far as to say he is a “sociophobe.” However, he and Jeong-Won have been friends since high school and he had no trouble fitting in with Jun-Wan , Ik-Joon, and Song-Hwa when he got to med school. In fact, he had a crush on Song-Hwa while they were still in school but when she wanted to simply remain friends he married the girl his parents chose for him. When they ended up getting a divorce less than a year later he went to the U.S. to study. His sister passed away and his father left the family for another woman so Seok-Hyeong moved back in with his mother and has made her his first priority.
Thirty-nine year old Jo Jung-Suk plays the part of Assistant Professor Lee Ik-Joon. I first became acquainted with him in 2015 when he starred in Oh My Ghostess, which was at one time on my favorite dramas list. Then in 2017 he took the lead again in Two Cops, an excellent fantasy/crime story, and that review is where you can find information about him.
Chief Professor Kim Joon-Wan is played by soon-to-be 37 year old Jung Kyung-Ho who made his way onto my favorite actors list when he starred in 2016s One More Happy Ending, opposite lovely Jang Na-Ra. You can read about him in my review of Missing 9.
This isn’t the first time 36 year old Yoo Yeon-Seok has acted in a medical drama. He was in General Hospital 2, Midnight Hospital, and co-starred in Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim. In Hospital Playbook Yoo Yeon-Seok plays the part of the kind-hearted Assistant Professor Ahn Jung-Won. You can click on my Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim review to read a bit more about this fine actor.
Jeon Mi-Do’s character, Associate Professor Chae Song-Hwa, is the only female in the group. This lovely actress is mainly known for her performances in the theater, which includes musicals. She received her first Best Actress award in 2017 for her performance in Sweeney Todd and another the following year for her role in Maybe Happy Ending. Mi-Do will be 38 years old in August. The fact that Song-Hwa is her first starring role in a TV drama really surprised me. Her acting is phenomenal. I can’t wait to see her in more things.
The part of Assistant Professor Yang Seok-Hyung is played by 39 year old Kim Dae-Myung, who happens to be the oldest of the group (by 10 days). His entertainment career began in 2006 with the film Puzzle but he moved to the theater the following year, staying there until 2010 when he appeared in two short films, then going on to do more. In 2014 he had a supporting role in his first TV drama, the highly rated Misaeng: Incomplete Life.
Since his dream had always been to be in a band, Seok-Hyeong is the one responsible for the group of friends forming a band while they were still in med school. Ik-Joon plays the guitar and is the lead singer right beside Kyung-Ho who also plays the guitar. Jung-Won learned to play the drums in order to be in the band, Seok-Hyeong plays the keyboard, and Ik-Joon taught Song-Hwa to play the bass guitar. Although Song-Hwa has always wanted to be the lead singer, since she’s tone deaf the guys objected to that idea but allow her to sing backup with everyone else. The group plays in the basement of Seok-Hyung’s house and we get to hear them at least once an episode, sometimes more. Even though they’re just an amateur group they’re really good. They play ballads, upbeat songs and even classical music with a modern twist – their version of Pachelbel Canon in D Major is excellent! Do the actors play in real life the instruments their characters play? I can’t tell you that for certain but they all did an amazing job faking it if they don’t, especially Yoo Yeon-Seok on the drums.
Hospital Playlist’s director, Shin Won-Ho, and its screenwriter, Lee Woo-Jung, have worked together before on the Reply series – Reply 1997, Reply 1994 (in which Yeon-Seok also happened to be part of the cast) and Reply 1988. This duo has some serious synergy going on. I just hope they’ll be working together again for Hospital Playlist’s part two next year.
Since the five doctors are specialists, the medical cases we see in this drama don’t vary as much as the ones in shows like Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim but the situations surrounding those patients’ illnesses do. Child abuse, illegal organ donation, sick family members, and one of the five doctors needs treatment… nothing is boring or redundant.
Hospital Playlist (aka Wise Doctor Life), turned out to be the ninth highest rated Korean drama in cable television history. It is also the second installment of what has been called the Wise Life series with Prison Playbook (aka Wise Prison Life which, interestingly enough, also starred Jung Kyung-Ho) being the first. When I discovered this show is part of a series I couldn’t help but think of the old season-themed Endless Love series (which is comprised of Autumn in My Heart, Winter Sonata, Summer Scent, and Spring Waltz). I haven’t seen Prison Playbook yet (for some reason I don’t handle prison stories/scenes well) but now that I know it’s part of a series I just may force myself to watch it. I wonder what other kind of stories this Wise Life series will entail.
I like how the previews for the proceeding episode are split between the doctors’ personal and professional lives. We see little clips of what is going to be happening to them as people and then see what lies ahead for them as doctors. Very clever. It helps us realize these characters are much more than just physicians in white coats.
I’ve posted reviews about dramas that weren’t completely over yet only because I wasn’t aware of the fact that there would be more to come (such as Love Cells, Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim, and Queen of Mystery – although that one screamed it’s not over yet, as well as its sequel). I watched both Kingdom and Love Alarm before realizing they would have a second part so I made the difficult decision of waiting until each one has completely ended before I write about them. I want to be accurate in my reviews and I felt that being forced to have so much time between the show’s parts wouldn’t bring about a fair review. This will be the first time I’ll be writing about a drama aware that it’s not officially and completely finished. Why? Because it ends well enough that it could stand on its own without desperately needing a part two – although I would have probably lost sleep trying to decide what I thought happened to these five people that I had come to think of as my friends. I loved Hospital Playlist so much that you don’t have to worry about whether or not I’ll be reviewing the second season. The minute it’s out, I’ll have it on!
If you’re interested in listening to all the songs the doctors’ band performs on the show you can find them here on YouTube. Because the things the band plays are the spotlight of the show’s music (and I’ve already written about that) I’ve decided to only mention one other song – Confession is Not Flashy, beautifully sung by the man I consider to be the Kdrama ballad king, Cho Kyu-Hyun (Kyuhyun from Super Junior). You’ll love this song. The man’s voice is, as always, absolutely mesmerizing! The show’s soundtrack is extensive and definitely worth listening to.
Most of the drama’s scenes are shot in the hospital, of course. I didn’t even care that there weren’t a lot more backgrounds. There’s enough to let us see they all have lives outside of being doctors and that’s really all we need.
Aside from Doctor John, Hospital Playlist is the only other medical Kdrama to make it on to my perfect score list. I can’t praise this show enough. 2021 can’t come fast enough for me!
In short – absolutely everything!
We have to wait until 2021 for a sequel